danieldwilliam: (Curly Wurly)
The weekend was moderately successful. The main business, the seventh birthday of the Captain and associated ceremonials passed off well.

My mum has arrived to help out with getting the holiday let house in good shape. She's a great gardener so she's giving the garden a good once over. She's also doing bit of DIY and generally being on hand to keep tradesmen focused. She also has a job to do exploring the village and surrounds and making friends with the locals.

My daughter came up from university for the weekend arriving on Friday.

I got home from a week of being successfully audited by internal audit fo find my family waiting for me and all well and in good spirits.

Family takeaway from the nice Thai takeaway with mum and dad, MLW, BB and the Captain. All very nice until my dad picked a fight with my mum about the need for more populism in the NHS and I called him a Faragist. (There being in my view a very important distinction between popular engagement and populist engagement.)

Saturday, no early morning football due to the Captain's foot injury. Mum and MLW made an early morning run to B&Q. Then the Rugby. A mass expedition of MLW, the Captain and I, the Captain's Good Friend and his dad, an old school friend of mine, her husband and their rugby mad son to Murrayfield to watch Scotland (still in contention for second) play Italy (still in contention for their first win of the tournament). Sadly for both teams neither was to be. In not great conditions for precision rugby Scotland ran in four tries for a 29-0 victory. This somewhat flattered us as the Italian kicker missed three straightforward kicks at goal and then gave up prompting a ten minute passage of Italy kicking for the corner and having their driving maul not work. So of Scotland's kicking out of hand was of questionable quality and value and the crowd got a bit bored, frustrated and restless. I'm not saying the crowd were unhappy but if not exactly disgruntled they were very far from gruntled. They cheered up after a well attended Mexican wave and the bonus point-winning fourth try. I'm told the game looked better on TV than from the North stand.

Fairwell Vern Cotter, but not I hope adieu to Scotland's more attacking, higher quality style of play.

The Captain had a small nap in the backseat of the car on the way home. He'd been very excited about his birthday, often waking during the night for a visit to our bed and was very, very tired. Happy but tired.

I introduced mum to rugby with the second half of the Wales - France match. Explaining the last 20 minutes put me on my metal but I think I managed to convey some of the game and she picked up on the potential moral hazard of the French doctor. As little as can be said about the England - Ireland game the better. Sadly, the chips did not fall where they needed to for Scotland to finish second, or even third and we ended the Six Nations with a muted 4th. I'd have taken that at the begining of the tournament. We must rue the missed opportunity for a fourth try against England.

Sunday arrived. Early. The Captain's party was at 10am in a massive softplay dome. It's the old Leith water park, now converted in to a muti-story climbing frame. It's definately the best in Edinburgh. He and his friends had a grand time. The event was well run by the venue staff and MLW. Everyone had a lovely time. My son has the sweatiest head in his class.

Home for presents, of which there were many. The quality of toys and co is definately higher than it was ten or twenty years ago. The main big present is a PlayStation 4 with Lego Dimensions. I have no idea what to do. Nor does the Captain. It took me hardly any time to set it up but a while for the controllers to charge up. A short play, then out for tea, then home for some more epic Lego adventuring.

All in all in a fine weekend.
danieldwilliam: (machievelli)
I have been to the USA. Specifically to Columbus, Ohio on a week long business trip.

It was fine. The necessary business was taken care of as much as it could be. Columubus is a nice town. It's about twice as big as Edinburgh, flat and a little dull but perfectly pleasant. I would not hurry to go there on holiday but if I had to spend a week or two somewhere for work on expeneses there are worse places (Runcorn I am looking at you, but not a starting a fight way).

There are easy flights from Edinburgh to Columbus. The direct service from Edinburgh to Newark and the many connections from Newark make travellilng to the USA from Edinburgh pretty straightforward. I could have done without the 4 hour layover in Newark airport. Long enough to be thoroughly bored not quite long enough to go to New York for a coffee. I read a lot of science fiction.

Security and immigration was very straightforward despite the heightened attention on these matters. It took no longer than usual to pass muster.

There is ample decent beer in Columbus. Truly we live in a golden age of beer. I found that the local bar sold Newcastle Brown (I did not order any, I don't like the stuff). I prefered the Hawaiian lager (I'm very well thank you and thank you for asking.) The pick of the bunch was World of Beer in the university district which has about 40 beers on tap. I had three and watched the sunset from beside the firepit in the beer garden.

My hotel was near the Ohio State University campus. The OSU "Buckeye's" stadium is huge. 110,000 capacity. Took me half an hour to walk round. Quite handsome looking, modelled on the Flavian Amphitheatre and the Parthenon.

I also found a Spurs supporters bar. I was in there with a colleague. He's buying the beer. I'm looking round. Spot a Spurs scarf. Then another, then a third. There's a wall of them. Several flags. Collect drink from the barman.

"Why do you have so many Tottenham scarves?"

*sigh*

"We're a Spurs bar?"

"Really!?! That's nice."

"Not really, I'm a Gooner."

aside to my colleague "When you're a Gooner working behind the bar in a Spurs pub it's time to reconsider your life choices."

Anyway, nice beer.

Home on Friday morning. Spent the day napping and hanging out with The Captain and one of the Cousin Uncles. There was judo.

Then beers and dinner with visitors who had come to see N and her companions. Illegal Jacks had haggis quesades and beer. That is all you need to know.

Saturday involved a trip to Murrayfield to watch a surprisingly good Scotland win handsomely in the end over a less than convincing Wales. 29-13 if I recall correctly. The usual high seats in North 4. Grand views but b'gad make sure you've been to the loo and the bar (in that order) before you take your seat.

(I watched the England Italy game on Sunday. I'm not laughing honestly. Not even a little bit.)

I am not now predicting a win against England but I wouldn't be surprised if it happened. In any event, it's nice to be three games in and still in the hunt for the Six Nations and the Triple Crown. Uncle Vern we shall miss you up in North 4.

Saturday night involved a trip to my local craft beer pub, Cloisters, where the Cousin Uncle secured a table. Yes, a table in Cloisters on a Six Nations match day. Yes, I was surprised too. He even got enough seats for everyone. Admittedly he juggled a pint of beer on top of the table and that didn't end well for the beer but sometimes you have to take the rough with the smooth. We then dined splendedly in a Greek restaurant next door. The backlava was particularly delicious.

The evening was rounded off with a dram of my new, duty free, Ron Zapaca solero rum. Lovely.

Sunday, lunch with dad and the aformentioned rugby in the afternoon.

In the morning the major business of the weekend, the Captain's first competative rugby match. He and I took the bus to Dalkeith to play a round robin mini tournament for Bororoughmuir against Dalkeith and Falkirk. He had a grand time and scored four tries including one rather fierce one diving over the line. He was playing at about 80% for the first few games and then got injured. Several kids fell over each other and one of them bashed his teeth of the Captain's leg. He was in tears but once the shock had worn off he was on fire. Four consecutive tags in one passage of play, left wing, right wing, left wing, right wing with no one else involved set the tone for the next half of the morning. He might turn out to be rather good at the game. A well received sausage roll and a lift to Grandad's for lunch rounded off the morning's sport.

I was delighted to spend the morning with him and very pleased to see him play so well.

All in all a good weeked after a decent trip away. I'm a little tired. I shall look forward to an early night tonight.
danieldwilliam: (machievelli)
I have a new mattress. It is wonderful.

The old mattress was perhaps 20 years old. It predated me moving in with MLW by some years and we've been married for 11 years. It was knackered and sagging and worn out and very, very uncomfortable. I had not properly recognised how uncomfortable it had become. What I realise now is that for the last 18 months or so I've basically been clinging to the side of the mattress to stop myself rolling in to the middle. Not so much clinging as having to hold myself rigid and brace myself.

No wonder I've been feeling so sleepy recently. (Still need to go to the GP about that.)

Inertia and a sort of creeping failure in service had kept us from buying a new mattress.

The new mattress is one of the famous Premier Inn mattresses which you can now buy.

http://www.premierinn.com/gb/en/why/sleep/buy-our-bed.html

I've been staying at Premier Inns at least once a month for about a decade and half now. I've never found their beds anything other than really, really comfortable. So an easy choice to make. After a few night's experience definately the right choice. I can already feel myself more rested than I've felt in months.
I even enjoyed having the mattress delivered.

I've put a reminder in my diary to buy a new mattress in ten year's time. I love my new mattress and would want to part on good terms.
danieldwilliam: (machievelli)
I am watching more television than I usually do. A combination of feeling a bit tired and having access to some new television. I've recently started reading again (thank you Mary Beard scourge of the Daily Mail and defender of the Roman Patriachy). Before I forget here are some of the things I've watched and what I thought about them. There may be spoilers for Agent Carter, Accension, Designated Survivor, Firefly.
Read more... )
danieldwilliam: (economics)
Here are some economic trends I think are important.

Globalisation -

a) ability of goods and services, capital and people to move anywhere in the world

b) technology transfers from rich countries to poor countries that allow firms in poor countries to mass produce products for sale to rich countries or each other

Automation

the ability of machines to perform tasks with out human control or physical effort - ranging from simple automated production processes through to more complex processes requiring manipulation and processing of data during the production process in order to produce a final good or service

Betterment

The ability of an automated process to have access to the best control systems, the best information, the best expert system or the best design of outputs through the use of non-rivalous software.

Western Productivity

The slow and slowing growth in how much valuable work people can do in rich parts of the world.

Aging

The average age is increasing almost everywhere. In poor countries this is largely because children are living in to adulthood more often. In rich countries it is because adults are becoming old more ofren. Everywhere the demographic pyramid is becoming more of column with equal numbers of people in each age band.

Enrichment

The poor are becoming less poor. Global Income Inequality is falling. Many poor countries are getting richer and many, many poor people in poor countries are getting richer. By 2030 there will probably be as many people in China who earn more than the average European wage than there are people in Europe.

Energy Prices

A world with abundent, cheap, clean energy is a very different world to one with shortages of energy and energy that is expensive or polluting. Personally I think we're about to enter a long period of steady reductions in energy prices and steady improvements in the amount of energy available and the cleanliness of that energy but I could be wrong.

Climate Change

We're already released so much carbon dioxide in to the atmospher that we are already going to have significant climate change. Change presents opportunities and challenges but I think globally rather more challenges than opportunities come from climate change.
danieldwilliam: (machievelli)
Some quick throughts on Trumps first 100 days proposals. He should strike fast before House Republicans remember that they hate him.

http://www.npr.org/2016/11/09/501451368/here-is-what-donald-trump-wants-to-do-in-his-first-100-days

Read more... )
danieldwilliam: (electoral reform)
For those of you watching in black and white the pound is now at its lowest level against the US dollar in 31 years, trading this morning at $1.2757.

That's below the value it touched just after the EU Referendum result.

This isn't a result of Brexit. This is a result of us *talking* about Brexit. My guess, for what its worth, is that if we ever get round to actual Brexit we'll see the pound worth more or less one US dollar. Its high over the last twelve months was 1.55. Dollar parity would see the pound worth 2/3rds of its value a year ago.

You'll start to see this in inflation figures over the next few months. The next Bank of England quarterly inflation report is due on the 3rd of November and this will be the first one where the whole period is after the referendum and the fall in value of the pound. Anything that is imported, anything where large parts of the components are traded in dollars and anything involving lots of oil will get more expensive.

The FTSE 100 share index, made up of large multi-national firms, so not really a great measure of the UK economy, rises to a near record 7,000 points. It is traded in pounds. In dollars, it's down 2% this year. Basically people with dollars are taking their valuable dollars and buying cheap pounds to buy shares in FTSE 100 companies at a bargain. Apply the same logic to other UK stock indices.

If you are able to negotiate yourself a payrise now might be the time to start. Or if you're a pensioner with a triple locked pension and investments in the FTSE 100 sit back and crack open a bottle of English sparkling wine.
danieldwilliam: (machievelli)
This post was written before this weekend but not posted as I've been away from keyboard.

Autum is upon on and in time honoured tradition it is time for my much loved Strictly Come Dancing blog - the blog where psephology dress in tails and forecasting executes a slow Samba role. After an initial "But who are these people?" unpromising start the inclusion of Ed "Glitter" Balls and a record breaking opening week mean that Strictly this year is shaping up to be classic.

Usually I like to do my first predictions before the first week of the dancing and then revise them after I've seen them dance but a genuine lack of knowledge about some of the contestants and my deep imperative to comment on the Labour Leadership election between two obscure backbenchers no one had ever before meant that I didn't.

This is the first year in which the first round of scoring has seen no couple score less then 20. Initial quality of dancing has been high and pretty even. I think this year's competition will be much more open than previous years.

Anastacia and Brendan

Anastacia is genuinely a global superstar, if you live in the 2000's and listen to a different genre of music from me. She'll be pushed by the ever competative Brendan "Hot" Coles. Her Cha-cha-cha was well received with 28 points putting her in 5th place on the leaderboard. Does she have the combination of stunning dance moves and heavy weight lovability to get to the final. I think not - she'll fight through to the closing stages but will be eliminated before the final.

Claudia "Just Dance" Frangapane, is the smallest and youngest and most gymnastic of the this year's contestants and the most reminiscent of Chelsee Heeley. She is paired with new dancer AJ Pritchard. Rightly marked down by Head Judge Len for her unwarranted gymnastic interludes she managed a creditable 8th. It's difficult to comment on the abilities her partner brings to the show but my general rule in Strictly is don't bet heavily against Olypians. They are popular with the public, know how to train and have a determination to win. Unless they are Victoria Pendleton, in which case no one loves them. Difficult also to judge the dancing her in amongst the gymnastics. My big note on the evening was that she'd telegraphed one of her tricks very clearly. I'm going to reserve judgement but my gut says, if she can dance a Cha-cha-cha she wouldn't be tumbling.

Daisy "Daisy" Lowe is a model which to be honest isn't a field I've taken much interest in since the heternomative culture of the 1990's told me I should fancy Claudia Schiffer and Cindy Crawford. She's paired with Aljaz Skorjanec, a former winner and a dancer and choreographer I really rate. She topped the leader board with 32 points after a delightful waltz. Before seeing her dance I wouldn't have expected her to make the final. My view is that models aren't all that popular with the voting public. But someone who can dance as well as Daisy has surely got to be in the final. I don't think she'll win but she's my first finalist.

Danny "Flasher" Mac. When I first saw Danny Mac I had an instinctive, irrational dislike of him. Finding out that we was an appearer on Holyoaks only made my dislike of him instictive and rational. Discovering that women of my acquaintance were public prepared to admit to finding him sexually desirable, well, let's just say no one came out of that well. Danny has Oti as a pro-dancer. I like Oti, I think she has potential as a dancer. Their score of 31 for a rather loose limbed cha-cha-cha was flattering but put them in to second on the leader board. Let's see how he does with something that requires him not to smarm. He ought to be a contender for the final with a score of 31 but I don't like him even if he is good so I'm going to put him down to go out a few rounds before the final.

Ed "Glitter" Balls is paired with Katya Jones one of a number of new professional dancers this year. I love him. I salute him. Ed Balls. But he's out of place. By far the worst dancer over the weekend he finished bottom of the leader board on 21. Ed Balls. Difficult to see him lasting beyond the first dance off I suspect we'll next hear of Yvette Cooper's husband when he returns from the wilderness to lead Labour to a stunning election victory in the second general election of 2020.

Natalie Lowe this year is paired with famed ginger jumper Greg "the Ginger Jumper" Rutherford. Despite early problems getting his legs to move slowly and not in a straight line Greg managged a creditable 27 points putting him in 6th place. One again, through a double whammy of being an Olympic athelete and not Victoria Pendleton the Ginger Jumper's staying power should not be underestimated. Easily a contender for the semi-final.

Judge "Judge Not Lest You Be Judged" Rinder. Flamboyant does not do justice to Judge Rinder's Cha-cha-cha. Strangely persuasive also doesn't do justice to his cha-cha-cha. 25 points and joint 10th place with Laura Witmore probably does do justice to his cha-cha-cha. Charisma, entertainment, energy and a celebrity appearance by Benedict Cumberbatch about the time the trailers for Sherlock start appearing will keep him in till the half way mark. After that, he'll be up against good dancers in the dance off. I have to fully own that I do not warm to Oksana for reasons I can not put my finger on.

Laure Witmore. I have never heard of her until Strictly. 10th on 25 points was probably a fair return to opening efforts on Saturday night. Paired with another of the new pro-dancers. I don't see Witmore doing better than mid-table mediocrity.

Lesley "Delorian" Joseph, in the able and long suffering hands of last year's 4th placed Anton de Beke gave a surprisingly moving waltz which I thought was a touch undermarked at 23 and second from bottom. Likely to make it through a few weeks on the basis of being surprisingly not awful.

Louise Redknapp was the whirlwind crush of my generation, the pin up of the early 90's before the Spice Girls and All Saints. Musical and popular and charming she's paired with perhaps the best professional dancer in terms of choreography. I'm not sure she'll win but I'm sure she'll be in the final.

I like Janette Manrarra - she's a another of the professional dancers who takes a three dimensional approach to teaching, and performing with her celebrity. Melvin seems like a jolly chap but I don't think he has the natural affinity for dance that is needed to get much beyond the half way mark.

I quite like Naga Munchetty as a news anchor but she's a bit awkward. A competent opening dance saw her comfortably off the bottom of the leaderboard. Pasha Kovalev has a decent track record of getting his celebrity partners through the rounds but I don't think he's every really gotten someone several weeks futher then they ought to have gone, or done something that changes the game. He's solid but not spectacular as a partner. I predict an earlyish exit once the definate no hopers have been cleared out.

Ore Oduba, of whom I had not heard, was the surprise delight of Saturday night. A good dancer with some charisma I loved his first dance. I immediately thought he'd make it to the final.

Tameka Empson fills the roll of Surprisingly Good at Dancing for a Large Lady this series. Eastenders usually gives someone a good voting base. Anyone who can "surprise" the audience by being a competent dancer whilst overweight and cheerful can coast in to the second half of the series. For a value of coast that involves working really, really hard to get fitter and dance better and remain cheerful.

Will Young and Karen Clifton. If Will Young doesn't win then I will be very surprised. Musical theatre veteran Will is paired up with one of the better professional dancers to form the second power couple of Series 14. He comes with his own fan base. One that I think largely crosses over with Strictly's fan base. Karen has steered some less then awesome dancers to a decent places. Now she's paired up with someone who can actually dance in his own right I expect Will will be straight through to the final and is my pick to win.

So, my predictions for finalists, Will Young, Louise Redknapp, Ore Oduba, Daisy Lowe and Greg Rutherford. I think Will Young will win.

First out, sadly I predict Ed Glitter Balls will be first out.
danieldwilliam: (nice)
I have been surprised by energy things over the last week.

Firstly, I'm surprised that OPEC appears to be getting its act together to control supply and therefore increase prices.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-37502538

I'd largely decided that either (or both) the Saudi's had lost control of the price setting process within OPEC or they were trying something that would take a few more years to either work or not.

The agreed cuts in production are relatively small, and come at a time of fallling demand for oil. Oil, despite increasing sharply in price today is still around the $50 a barrel level. Less than half the $110 barrel recent peak. We've also yet to see if the dirty work of allocating the cuts in production amongst members will happen.

I don't think this changes my general assumption that oil and gas will remain significantly lower than recent highs for at least a few years because OPEC are unable or unwilling to drive up the price significantly. But that assumption is now on the watch list.

Secondly, I've been surprised by how quickly solar generated electricity costs are falling. Record low prices in the Middle East of $23 per MWH or £18 (compared to £50 $65 in the UK at the moment or £100 $130 for Hinkley Point C.

http://blogs.platts.com/2016/09/27/solar-prices-point-to-middle-east-future/

http://rameznaam.com/2016/09/21/new-record-low-solar-price-in-abu-dhabi-costs-plunging-faster-than-expected/

At $23 per MWH solar electricity is cheaper than the gas you would burn in CCGT to generate the same volume of electricity. Which leaves a lot of value left over to build complementary infrastructure like High Voltage DC transmission cables, or storage. It also makes places like the Middle East pretty attractive for high energy intense industries.

This doesn't appear to be a trend only in the Middle East. Latin America (also close to the equator) has seen sharply falling solar prices.

I'm not sure what's driving this. My guess is that solar generation balance of plant costs are falling but I'm not sure why.

My current assumption for solar electricity is that I expected the costs to fall by 1-2% year on year for a decade or two leading to cost parity with other grid sources in good locations over the decade 2020-2030. Looks like I might have to keep an eye on this assumption too. I think there is a virtuous circle operating in solar generation where learning curve effects and economies of scale make marginal production cheaper as total production increases so it could be that solar generation is about to fall more steeply in price than I anticipated.

Thirdly, I'm surprised to discover I might be making a small personal investment in some solar panels of my own so I need to go an remind myself how the Feed-In Tarrifs work.

My assumption had been that as I lived in a ground floor flat in Victorian tenament building in Edinburgh my own personal experience of renewable generation would be limited. Again, one to watch.

So, it's been a surprising week in energy.
danieldwilliam: (machievelli)
My Lovely Wife has been away in Holland on a singing holiday. The Captain and I were left to our own devices for the week. MLW left on Monday morning. We continued to have visitors. BB and one of the Captain's grown up cousins were staying. BB took the Captain to school on Monday and Tuesday and collected him on Tuesday. We headed round to my dad's for tea on Monday after he had picked up the Captain. Sunday saw BB and my nephew going to see a rather good comedy magician called Pete Firmin. He for some reason reminded me of George Formby. Or at least how I imagine George Formby would have been. Had he been a comedy magician. He was entertaining.

We also went to see Chris Turner, a cousin on the other side of the Captain's cousin. As Robin Williams might have put it O Cousin of My Cousin.

http://www.christurnercomedy.com/about/

Chris is a philosphical stand up and freestyle rapper. He makes me think and his show is multi layered and many textured. It also had a picture of the Captain's cousins in the bath.

On Wednesday I went out for dinner with my dad and his oldest friend. Couple of beers in Summerhall then grilled meaty delights in Hanedan's. Good to see my dad's mate.

Grown up cousin left on Tuesday. BB left on Wednesday.

I had many early nights and did about a dozen loads of washing and cleaned the bathroom. The Captain and I went for a ride on our new tag-a-long tandem. It works but it will take some getting used to.

University update - BB has a place at university. Not her first choice despite getting an A* in the subject she's planning to study. Hey ho. She'll enjoy where she's going.

I was very impressed by how quickly and forcefully she reacted to not getting her first choice. It took her less than two hours to sort out a place following what I know would have been a great disappointment to her. When it mattered she executed. I'm very proud of her for all the hard work she's put in and very pleased that it has worked out well in the end.

I watched Deadpool last night whilst MLW was out at choir. It was perfectly acceptable. The actiony bits were action-packed. The promised levels of sarcastic witty banter were wittily sarcastic. The darker tinged plot was tinged a touch darker than I might have expected from a superhero movie. It had a begining, a middle and an end and competently started in the middle, moved to the begining and worked up to the end. I quite enjoyed it.

I feel like I might have missed something. I'm not a comic book fan or a fan of superhero fiction so I'm probably not seeing amusing subversions of the genre or I'm underestimating the appeal of a character I'd not heard of till I saw him on the side of a bus. I fully accept that I may not be the target audience for the film. It provided a good level of diversion and entertainment after a long week Captain Wrangling
danieldwilliam: (machievelli)
For a book related meme - read on.

Read more... )
danieldwilliam: (machievelli)
There are too few of these things. Here is one.

1. Do you like blue cheese?

I do. I like cheese very much generally. I like blue cheese a lot. Particularly sweeter blue cheese. I am very fond of the quote from Lenny Henry's Chef "Blue cheese; the perfect combination of bug and cow."

2. Have you ever smoked?

I have never had the habit of smoking tobacco. For a little while when acting in a play I tried out a pipe. I have smoked the occassional cigar but usually only so I could share one with a couple of attractive girls I know who like them. I don't think I've ever smoked a cigarette.

3. Do you own a gun?

I do not own a gun. Nor do I think it likely that I ever will. My step-dad owned one or two rifles.  I quite enjoy target shooting and clay pigeon shooting and I'm not bad at it. I think it strange that a meme should ask if I've owned a gun. It is a rare thing in my culture. It's like asking if I've ever owned a donkey.

4. What is your favourite flavour?

I joke with My Lovely Wife that every thing tastes better with cardomon. I like the taste of slow cooked lamb, or peppermint, or beer. I like sweet things. But my favourite taste is the taste of a passionate kiss.

5. Do you get nervous before doctor visits?

No and I try to put the medical team at their ease.

6. What do you think of hot dogs?

That I regret not having a traditional hot dog when I was in New York but that was probably a good idea on health and safety grounds. I prefer a sausage in a bun to frankfurter in a hot dog bun. The idea of a hot dog is surely greater than the actuality of a hot dog whereas a sausage in a bun is surely the greatest of humanities achievements.

7. Favourite Christmas movie?

It's A Wonderful Life or Die Hard.

8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning?

Rum but I make do with coffee. No, but seriously, I prefer tea in the morning along with a pint of sparkling water.


9. Do you do push-ups?

Yes, I do, at the gym. I can't say I care for them overly much, or they for me.

10. What’s your favourite piece of jewelry?

My favourite piece of jewelry that I own and wear is a pair of cufflinks that my wife bought me as a wedding present. My second favourite are some cufflinks that my daughter bought me as a birthday present. I'm not much of a jewelry person other than cufflinks.

11. Favourite hobby?

Improvised comedy.

12. Do you have A.D.D.?

No.

13. What’s the one thing you hate about yourself?

Oh, if only there were one thing.

14. Middle name?

I think it essential to have one. Mine is a closely guarded state secret and I go by the initial of D.

15. Name three thoughts right now?

Interest Rates.

How odd the financial reporting at work is and what is it that I'm not seeing that makes it make

Leadership from a distance.

16. Name 3 drinks you drink regularly.

Beer.
Coffee
Fizzy Water

I'd like to say rum, whisky and daquiris but we are not Hemmingway. We love adjectives too much.

17. Where's the question?

If this is a question, when was the answer?

18. Current hate right now?

I am trying not to hate anyone at the moment. It is difficult because I think many people are reveling in three things that I despise:willful ignorance, destruction and shifting the blame and they are doing all three at the same time and doing it for selfish reasons. But they won't be persuaded by my anger, wrath will not turn aside wrath, so I must do the work of trying to understand the emotions that lead them to be lazy and violent and irresponsible without losing sight of the fact that that is actually how they are behaving.

19. Favourite place to be?

I really like living in Edinburgh - I think my favourite place to be is the Meadows, in the early morning, on my way to an adventure of any duration, that will end with me returning home.

20. How do you ring in the New Year?

Usually with a bottle of champagne and a flask of whisky, standing on the Meadows watching the fireworks over Edinburgh Castle.

21. Where would you like to go?

I'd like to visit San Deigo. Not that I partiucularly wish to visit San Deigo but many things in my life would make more sense if I had been to San Deigo.

22. Name three people who will complete this?

I have no idea.

23. Do you own slippers?

I do but I don't wear them often.

24. What colour shirt are you wearing?

I am wearing a shirt that is multi-coloured. It has thin stripes of white with dark blue, light blue, deep red and mauve.

25. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets?

I do not think I have ever slept on satin sheets. Are they easy to wash?

26. Can you whistle?

Yes, loudly. You just put your lips together and bellow.

27. Favourite colour?

Yellow.

28. Would you be a pirate?

No, I have no love for violent criminals who disrupt global trade.

29. What songs do you sing in the shower?

Flowers on the Wall by the Statler Brothers

30. Favourite girls name?

Other than the names of my daughter I like Charlotte and Sophia.

31. Favourite boys name?

Other than the name of my son I like Thomas and James.

32. What’s in your pocket right now?

A ten pound note.

33. Last person that made you laugh?

K who is the junior sales and marketing person at work.

34. Best toy as a child?

An X-wing.

35. Worst injury?

I once broke my thumb, but perhaps the worst injury was my right knee when I fell off a ladder six years ago. That slowed me down for years.

36. Where would you love to live?

If not Edinburgh then Barcelona, Orkney or the Far North of Australia.

37. How many TVs do you have in your house?

Two televisions.

38. Who is your loudest friend?

An old friend from university who has gotten me through more difficult times than I had any right to expect of her and has a track record of saying the wrong thing very loudly.

39. How many dogs do you have?

I have no dogs. I do not think I will ever own a dog. I do not hate dogs but I do not love them either.

40. Does someone trust you?

Yes, but I can't tell you who.

41. What is your favourite movie?

The Duellests by Ridley Scott, staring Keith Caradine and Harvey Keitel and based on the Joseph Conrad novella.

42. What’s your favourite sweet?

Trebor Extra Strong Mints

43. What’s your favourite sports team?

The Scottish Rugby Team

44. What song do you want played at your funeral?

Flowers on the Wall by the Statler Brothers? Something from my wedding and Sit Down by James.

danieldwilliam: (machievelli)

I doubt that Hinckley Point C will ever generate a megawatthour of electricity.

I'm not saying that it definately won't happen but my money is on it not happening.

It's a risky project. Building nuclear power stations is difficult and fraught with technical and political risk. They are vast, difficult and very regulated construction projects with plenty of scope for things to go wrong. They are also subject to risk of legal challenge or outright civil disobedience actions from opponents.

It's expensive in interesting ways. At a budgeted £18bn for construction it puts a lot of money at risk for EDF and any of the investors. Which include both the French and Chinese state. They should be looking at the project execution risk and worrying whether £18bn will buy them a working power station. My view is that they won't get a working power station for £18bn and might not be able to get a working power station at any money.

It's also expensive in terms of the price for any electricity produced. £92.50 / MWH in the 2012 market was expensive. That strike price is index linked and estimated to be £120 / MWH. You can buy onshore wind today for about £60 / MWH. The price of that is falling. As is the cost of solar PV.

Now there is some value in having a diversified energy supply. What would we do if we discovered that all our new wind turbines had a latent defect or that solar PV caused cancer? I'm not sure it's worth paying double the going rate for electricity.

So, it's a difficult project that represents a financial risk to its investors and a bad deal for consumers.

And it won't be finished for ten years, probably longer.

By which time technology and the economics that go with that technology will have moved on. Solar PV will be cheaper, wind will be cheaper, I'd expect storage to be cheaper. All available in small increments. The oil price looks like it won't get much above the value implied by the long term cost of US fracking - so about $80 a barrel. In 2012 oil was above $100 a barrel.

if you can't build the project unless you can sell the power at £92.50 plus then I don't see how you can build the project.

This was true in 2012. I mean that had the plant gone ahead when first planned we would be looking at a one third complete power station that had started as expensive and was now out of the money but we'd have been committed to it. We now have four more years of information about the likely trajectory of energy prices. By the time the UK government conducts its review we'll have another year, perhaps two of information.

If my major premise about energy prices (that over the coming decades they are capped by the cost of fraking and then the cost of solar PV) is correct then Hinckley Point will look like a worse idea with every quarter that passes.

danieldwilliam: (machievelli)
Things I'm watching to see if Brexit is as bad economically as I think it's going to be.

1) FX rates, particularly the GBP:USD rate and the difference in movement between GBP:EUR and GBP:USD. Brexit will be uncertain for the UK and probably very bad, pushing down on the GBP. If people start to think it will drag the rest of the EU down with it then the USD will strengthen and the Euro won't
2) Petrol prices - the first time voters will feel Brexit in the their pocket will be next week when petrol prices go up and the weak pound makes dollar denominated oil more expensive.
3) Inflation figures in the quarter July-Sept. Again, driven by the weak pound I'd expect inflation to start nosing up a little
4) Job creation figures for the same quarter - if they are flat we are probably heading for a recession.
5) Quantative easing of some sort by the Bank of England - I believe the stock phrase is "organised support". Volumes, timings, and take up
6) Balance of payments - we already have a balance of payments problem, weak exports compensated for by inward investment. Will the investment keep coming?
7) Our credit rating with the other ratings agency - have the priced in all the bad news already?

Politically I'm watching for some pressure to be put on us. Possibly by ourselves. Not words but actual events.
1) The Calais frontier being moved back to England (watch for footage of drowned toddlers washed up on the beaches below the White Cliffs)
2) The Spanish government blockading Gibrator. (On some pretext. Looking for drugs or petrol smugglers.)
3) A pretty clear offer that Scotland can remain in the EU and therefore that if the UK leaves it will cease to be the UK
4) The Loyalist marching season in Northern Ireland getting out of hand.

What else should I be keeping an eye on.
danieldwilliam: (machievelli)
The country has been plunged in to chaos and the lights have gone out all over Europe.

Here at the Tartan Shortbread Institute of Scotology we've gotten hold of a couple of British candles and we've analysed the positions, pedigree and experience of the five candidates for Tory leader.

And we've decided to bring you 25 True Facts About Boris Johnson instead

1) Coward
2) Opportunist
3) Opportunistic Coward
4) Cowardly Opportunist
5) Back-stabber
6) Back-stabing Cowards
7) Cowardly Back-stabber
8) Back-stabbing Opportunist
9) Oppotunistic Back-stabber
10) Cowardly, Opportunistic Back-stabber
11) Opportunist, Cowardly Back-stabber
12) Back-stabbing Opportunistic Coward
13 Back-stabbing Cowardly Opportunist
14) Liar
15 Fool
16) Lying Fool
17) Foolish Liar
18) Self-Centred
19) Selfish Liar
20) Selfish Fool
21) Selfish Lying Fool
22) Lying Selfish Fool
23) Foolish Selfish Liar
24) Selfish Foolish Liar
25) Foolish Lying Narcissist
26) Lying Foolish Narcissist
27) Back-stabbing Cowardly Opportunistic Lying Foolish Narcissist.

Admittedly, that is 27 True Facts rather than 25 True Facts but everyone one knows that 27 is the gross figure, not the net figure.
danieldwilliam: (electoral reform)
Where does  Brexit leave voting reform?

Very difficult to tell. It will depend on the how the cascade of crises we're about to have tumble. That is probably true for many things.

My view is obviously coloured by the fact that I think our poor voting system is one of the contributory factors in the Brexit vote. If you think that I'm an out of touch Guardian reading, metropolitian liberal elite wanker who is part of the problem then my diagnosis is unlikely to be persuasive.

There are I think a number of binary positions to consider that build up to some scenarios.

Brexit either will or will not happen before 2020.

The government either will or will not collapse.

The Labour Party will recognise that it has lost the firm support of many traditional voters or it will not.

Scotland either will or won't become independent.

The Party system either will or won't break down.

As a reaction to the shock to the Party System can progressives or conservaties gather round a vote winning leader or a vote winning platform or not? Are social liberals and economic liberals allied or opposed? Do they converge or diverge?

Amongst that there are some scenarios that favour voting reform or constitutional reform more widely.

For example, the government collapses before Christmas, without Brexit, the Labour Party runs on a manifesto of putting power back in the hands of people with a constitutional convention, electoral reform and regional devolution.

Or the less favourably, the Tories don't implode and quietly don't invoke Article 50, we get to 2020 and the North of England votes for UKIP, Scotland votes for independence, and the Tories continue to run the country just has they have been for the decade before.

I think we need electoral reform but it is difficult to persuade people that it the solution to the problems that they have in their lives because they don't see the connection between voting mechanics and how power is operated and how power is used to apply resources to solve problems.
danieldwilliam: (machievelli)
I was corresponding with a USian colleague about the impact of Brexit on our business and offered him some Brexit Buzzwords that he could drop in to conversations in the US so as to appear knowledgable and on the ball.

I offer 15 of them below. Feel free to add your own



  1. Article 50 (has not been invoked)

  2. Corbynista (#JezzWeCan - equivalent to #FeelTheBern)

  3. £350 million

  4. Cornwall (voted for Brexit, would like the UK goverment to guarrantee its EU funding)

  5. Sewell Convention (the memorandum that lays out the process for changing the devolution settlement for Scotland)

  6. Dundalk - Newry crossing - (the bit of the Northern Ireland / Republic of Ireland border with the most traffic - if I recall correctly this is where a senior IRA commander had a farm that literally straddled the border.)

  7. Wiff Waff is Coming Home.

  8. "Actually I've got €50 onTeresa May becoming PM"

  9. The pound, oh my god, the pound.

  10. Kubler Ross Grief Cycle

  11. "Nicola Sturgeon is perhaps the most astute politician in the UK."

  12. #IndyRef2

  13. "Actually I've got €50 on Tom Watson becoming Labour Leader."

  14. Guardian reading metropolitian liberal elite (you say that as if it's a bad thing)

  15. Unwritten constitution.

danieldwilliam: (machievelli)

A serious thought about the EU Referendum and the possibility of a second Scottish Independence referendum.

I was, and am, in favour of Scottish Independence within the EU.

I was, and am, in favour of the UK remaining part of the EU.

I wish I could have both. If we can not have both I think we should pick the EU over the UK.

Ideally, for me, Scotland would become independent from the UK whilst both were in the EU. There would be a natural and pre-existing trading arrangement. We (Scotland) would have to ride out a few years adjusting to running our own country, getting a workable currency and setting our tax rates right. It would be difficult in the short term but I think, on balance, probably, better economically and politically in the medium term. This is a guess not a promise and I might be wrong. Other people thought so and I respect their thought processes and their right to their own values and risk preferences.

But we don't live in an ideal world. There appears to be no sweet spot where we can have easy trading relationships with both the rest of the UK and the other 27 members of the EU. The next few years are going to be economically challenging in exactly the same way as Scottish Indepdence was always going to be. Avoiding the sunk cost fallacy we have to make the best of the situation we are in today, not the best of the situation we thought we were in a week ago. We have to go forward from where we are. Where we are, today,  is in flux, with both peril and opportunity on all sides.

And so, it might now be the case that Scottish Indepedence as  part of the EU is the best option for my country even if it wasn't when the rest of the UK was an EU member state.

If that is the case I think we should do it quickly. To quote the first and greatest British playwright

"Thereis a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of theirlife is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures."

and

"If it were donewhen 'tis done, then 'twere well It were done quickly"

The position of the SNP before the EU referendum as I saw it was a) to reserve the right to hold a second referendum to Scottish people, and b) to actually wait until there was a pent up demand for independence. Fair and resonable under the circumstances in my view. But slow, so slow, so flat footed.

I think those circumstances have changed. We have a very strong vote for Remain in Scotland. Is that a proxy for a vote for Independence? Maybes Aye, Maybes Nay. There's only one way to find out soon. And find out soon we must. There is an opportunity for Scotland to profit from England's error. If we move quickly, quickly to establish a firm invitation to remain in the EU, quickly to hold and win an independence referendum and then quickly to set our trade and taxation policy so as to predate on England's uncertain future by encouraging international businesses currently located in England who want an Anglophone location in the EU to relocate to Scotland rather than Ireland. Which if they are going to do, they will do sooner rather than later.

Are the people of Scotland up for this? Only one way to find out. If we wait until we are certain the opportunity to walk away from the implosion of the UK with at least our own country and economy and people intact will be gone.

So I think Sturgon should get on a plane and fly round every European capital and ask them to jointly and severally invite Scotland to stay in the EU. If successful she should announce a referendum to be held before Christmas. If that is for independence then we negotiate SExit alongside Brexit and stay in the EU.

If unsuccessful we are not any worse off. If we wait to see how damaging Brexit will be and how that actually affects public opinion the damage to us will be done and the opportunity to ameliorate that damage with some prudent, sharp business will be lost.

To be clear - I am absolutely advocating that we (Scotland) conspire to stab our closest ally and dearest friend in the back. Et tu Scotus. We should not stand with them whilst they try to work out how to be a non-European nation. We should take advantage of their distress to prosper ourselves. What choice have they left us? What choice have we left ourselves.

I vote for #IndyRef2 within six months.

danieldwilliam: (machievelli)

The Tartan Shortbread Institute of Scotology has been busy peering in to the future of the UK England to determine if there actually is any future for any of us now. There’s good news and there’s bad news. The good news is that the Institute has secured EU funding from the Social Cohesion Fund. The bad news – well we’ve found ourselves locked up on a small island with a bunch of racists lead by the Chuckle Brothers. To pass the time until our taxi arrives to take us back to Europe here are 25 True Facts about Life After Brexit


  1. A radical change in education policy will be the first act of the new UK government. History, Economics and Science will be removed from the curriculum and replaced with Casual Racism and C’mon Engerland Studies.

  2. The Queen will abdicate and then be deported. Britain will become a republic. There doesn’t appear to be any other way to get round the fact that our Royal Family are unwelcome EU economic migrants who moved here from Germany and Greece to build a better life for themselves and their children.

  3. After stemming a massive run on the banks by personally standing in the streets of Newcastle handing out five euro notes Mark Carney will be given a knighthood for his services to not fucking things up any more than they already are. He won’t be able to accept the knighthood, because he’s Canadian and not a UK citizen.

  4. With the UK leaving the EU the European Union has lost the fifth largest economy in the world and will have to rely on the Germans to run everything and make everything. The Germans seem remarkably unconcerned by this onerous responsibility.

  5. After losing the Labour leadership election to an empty sack of potatoes dressed in a kimono and lightly garnished with gladioli Jeremy Corbyn will become our lead exit negotiator with the EU Commission. Wearing only a heliotrope smoking jacket he will be tasked with negotiating the terms of the UK's exit from the EU. He will bring a touch of vigour and enterprise to the EU that has been sadly missing of late. By the end of the negotiations Pimlico will be a Workers Revolutionary Paradise and the rest of London will belong to Donald Trump.

  6. Wiff Waff is coming home. It's being carried home by about a million ex-pat Brits from Spain. They have exactly the keen reflexes and go get 'em attitude we need to make ourselves the Wiff Waff capital of the Commonwealth.

  7. The Commonwealth will vote to expel us. No reason, well, no reason other than the fact that we’ve destroyed our own economy so are of no value to them and have just revealed ourselves to still be massively racist dicks. Also, without the Queen we no longer have anyone interesting to send on visits when the governments of Commonwealth nations want to distract their own population from corruption scandals or their own economic woes. Now they don’t have to. Instead they can just point at England, the world’s sixth largest economy and laugh.

  8. The new Prime Minister of the UK will be hand picked by the 1922 Committee from amongst the brightest and best Old Etonions not currently too busy running daddy’s hedge fund or in prison for illegal arms trading. If you are lucky it will Teresa May.

  9. You are shit out of luck. The new Prime Minister of the UK will be Boris Johnson. Unlike Mario Cuomo who campaigned in poetry and governed in prose Johnson will campaign in Latin and govern in incoherent, self-serving gibberish but still, never mind, there’s always the Wiff Waff. And the casual racism. Oh and the UK will still be the world’s seventh largest economy.

  10. The south of England can ignore global warming and the risk of droughts. Hose pipe bans will be a thing of the past. The roses of Kent will be watered by the bitter, bitter tears of EU citizens who are going to be sent back to where they come from. NB this does not apply to Boris Johnson who is an American of Turkish descent or Nigel Farage’s German wife.

  11. Scotland will leave. We will take our Wiff Waff paddles with us.

  12. People worried about the fragile peace in Northern Ireland will thank a catholic God that the IRA are reasonable people.

  13. A moment of national contemplation and celebration will occur giving thanks that this whole sordid affair has passed off without a shot being fired. Well, except for the ones that murdered Jo Cox. A bit like immigrants you personally like, those bullets don’t count.

  14. Port Talbot steel works will close but the Welsh will still be able to make a living doing whatever it is they do in the 21stcentury’s eighth largest economy.

  15. No one will point and laugh at us during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. This is largely due to the fact that Brasil has problems of its own with a massive scary plague, inept and corrupt politicians, a tanking economy and uneasy relationship with a colonial past. Birds of a feather.

  16. Pairing off against Jeremy Corbyn and Michael Gove in the Brexit negotiations will be newly appointed EU Commissioner Alex Salmond.  Only kidding. We’re sending Billy Connolly – you boys look like you need cheering up and we have to respect that the EU is negotiating with the world’s ninth largest economy. Negotiations will drag on for years as Connolly attempts but fails to finish an anecdote about a Glaswegian shepherd wrestling a fish supper in his wellies.

  17. London will demand a devolution settlement on a par with Scotland but with full fiscal autonomy. That’s full fiscal autonomy for the rest of England. The bits with no jobs or money. New Premier Sadiq Kahn will cancel fiscal transfers and solidarity payments to the North of England on the grounds that most of the money is made by EU citizens and they don’t see why it should be spent on schools and hospitals in a foreign country.

  18. Round about the time that Scotland and Northern Ireland leave the UK the former Great Britain will realise that the Great in Great Britain refers to its size relative to Brittany when both of those areas were part of the Angevian Empire and just because you call something “great” doesn’t make it actually great unless by “great” you mean xenophobic, myopic and destitute.

  19. In 2019, just ahead of the next English General Election, from out of the sack of potatoes occupying the Opposition dispatch box will emerge Gordon Brown, the King over the Water, who will lead the Labour to a stunning election victory just in time to be served with a repossession notice by the French. They would like Hastings back.

  20. Douglas Carswell will defect to Plaid Cymru.

  21. The main economic activity of the rump of the UK will be betting on how long the recession will last. This will sustain the UK as the twelfth largest economy in the world.

  22. Bob Geldolf will organise a fund raising concert on a barge in the Thames for impoverished Mackums. No one will go.

  23. The third runway at Heathrow will finally go ahead. At long last someone will find a use for all those sodding Wiff Waff paddles. They can be used to guide the private jets of Russian Mafioso to their personal tax free terminal building. The Pret a Manger in Terminal Five will overtake the UK to become the world’s seventeenth largest economy.

  24. Freed of costly regulations like workers’ rights, paid holiday and health and safety legislation the working classes of the North will enjoy a cultural renaissance where they rediscover the whole point of class solidarity, internationalism and organised labour. Paul Mason will martyr himself with a searing blog about international capitalism or something. The General Strike of 2026 will bring the world’s 47thlargest economy to its knees.

  25. England will be knocked out of the 2022 World Cup at the semi-final stage by Germany on penalties. An embarrassed Angela Merkell will be heard to mutter “You really can’t help some people can you?”



























danieldwilliam: (machievelli)
This isn't a prediction but more of a prior or a baseline.

As you sow, so shall ye reap and sometimes you are not the harvester but the harvest.

If Scotland is to become independent and pick up any benefit of businesses wanting to keep an Angolphone office inside the EU it will need to become independent within the EU pretty fast. I'd be disappointed if Sturgeon wasn't on a plane to Brussels and Bonn today.

Indyref Part 2 within a year. Yes wins by a narrow margin. Scotland opens popcorn but realises it actually has some work to do so sells the popcorn. Watch the predatory corporation tax rate and the subtlely lax banking regulation. (Let's hope we have the sense to keep some of the tax revenue back for the next crash.)

Chaos in the Tory Party. They either need to back off the central plank of their economic policy of reducing the deficit through spending cuts or they need to magically make the economy not be affected by the referendum result or admit that their economic credibilty is worth about as much as the pound. So, the emergency budget will be devisive - for them - and brutal for the working classes in the North of England and the Midlands. I'd expect May to emerge at Tory leader and the next PM.

Chaos in the Labour Party. Corbyn is utterly pish. Essentially backed Leave.  I thought he'd manage to communicate with people and shift the Overton Window a bit but it feels like he's sitting at his desk writing strident blog posts, filing his paperclips and gazing at the pin-ups in the Morning Star. However, the Labour right hasn't re-organised in to a coherent post-Blarite grouping and, to be honest, doesn't have much in the way of quality to offer either.

I think we probably avoid a snap general election. Jeez, that would be messy.

Plan A - we (they) end up having a second EU referendum post exit negotiations on the question "Do you want to stay in the EU or take the actual deal on offer?"

Plan B - Britain (aka England) gets left to dangle for a year or more and ends up in the European Economic Area but on pretty strict terms, probably including Schengen. (I personally won't be sorry about this. I like the EU, I like free movement, I like every closer union and being forced to join the EEA will be a much needed punch to the nuts of post-imperialist little Englanders. Also, I'll be living in a post-independence Scotland.)

Those are not our Plans A and B but the German's Plans A & B.

Ten or twenty years after England joins the EEA it votes to rejoin the EU finally shorn of its illustions that the rest of the world owes it any favours.

The working class of the North of England and the Midlands continues to be slowly evicerated by the Conservative Party. If you want a vision of the future, imagine a hand-made Italian brogue stamping on a face, forever.

But not I think in my country.

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